- Journal Article2009Restoring rainforest fragments: survival of mixed-native species seedlings under contrasting site conditions in the Western Ghats, India.Restoration Ecology 17: 137-147.Download
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Historical fragmentation and a current annual deforestation rate of 1.2% in the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot have resulted in a human-dominated landscape of plantations, agriculture, and developed areas, with embedded rainforest fragments that form biodiversity refuges and animal corridors. On private lands in the Anamalai hills, India, we established restoration sites within three rainforest fragments (5, 19, and 100 ha) representing varying levels of degradation such as open meadow, highly degraded sites with dense Lantana camara invasion, abandoned exotic tree plantations (Eucalyptus grandis and Maesopsis eminii), and sites with mixed-native and exotic tree canopy. Between 2000 and 2004, we planted annually during the southwest monsoon 7,538 nursery raised seedlings of around 127 species in nine sites (0.15–1.0 ha). Seedlings monitored at 6-monthly intervals showed higher mortality over the dry season than the wet season and survival rates over a 2-year period of between 34.4 and 90.3% under different site conditions. Seedling survival was higher in sites with complete weed removal as against partial removal along planting lines and higher in open meadow and under shade than in sites that earlier had dense weed invasion. Of 44 species examined, survival across sites after 24 months for a majority of species (27 species, 61.4%) was higher than 50%. Retaining regenerating native species during weed clearing operations was crucial for rapid reestablishment of a first layer of canopy to shade out weeds and enhance survival of shade-tolerant rainforest seedlings.
- Popular Article2009Death on the highwayThe Hindu Survey of the Environment 2009: 113-118.
Read here: http://blog.ncf-india.org/2009/10/10/death-on-the-highway/
- Journal Article2009Observations of small carnivores in the southern Western Ghats, IndiaSmall Carnivore Conservation 40: 36-40Download
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Despite a diverse assemblage of small carnivores in the forests of the southern Western Ghats in India, there is a paucity of information on their ecology, distribution, behaviour and current conservation status. Chance observations generated during surveys for other purposes are therefore useful. Sightings and signs of small carnivores were recorded opportunistically during a study to assess the distributions of larger mammals in the southern Western Ghats. The study yielded sightings of seven species of viverrids, herpestids and mustelids. The Common Palm Civet Paradoxurus hermaphroditus and Small Indian Civet Viverricula indica were sighted most frequently. The restricted-range Brown Palm Civet Paradoxurus jerdoni was sighted once.
- Conference Proceedings2009Opportunities and challenges for tiger (Panthera tigris) conservation in the southern Western Ghats, IndiaShifting Trajectories of Ecology and Coexistence: Proceedings of the National Seminar on People and Tigers. Kerala Forest Department, Periyar Tiger Reserve, Thekkady, India. pp. 135-147Download
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The southern Western Ghats is an important ecological subunit of the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot. Dominated by moist forests, including tropical wet evergreen forests, it has higher levels of biodiversity and endemism than the rest of the Western Ghats. There are 19 Protected Areas in the southern Western Ghats that cover 36% of its total area, among which Parambikulam, Anamalai and Periyar Tiger Reserves stand out as primary source habitats for tigers. The region is fragmented from north to south into the Anamalai, Periyar and Agasthyamalai landscapes. Given the crucial need for large, contiguous areas to ensure the persistence of wide-ranging large predators such as the tiger Panthera tigris and its prey, it is important to establish and maintain habitat connectivity within and between these landscapes, whereas conservation efforts today are focused on small, insular protected areas. Possibilities for forging connectivity between the Anamalai and Periyar landscapes along Kerala state are nonexistent owing to the loss of Devikulam Range in Munnar Forest Division to cardamom cultivation and developments related to tourism and Kumily Range in Kottayam Forest Division to encroachment. The link on the Tamil Nadu side, along the steep eastern slopes of Theni Forest Division, is extremely narrow and consequently unsuitable for large mammal movement at present. Our surveys, however, point to the possibility of bridging this gap through a corridor at Kottavasal. Recent camera-trapping studies by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun have highlighted the precarious situation of tigers in Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in the Agasthyamalai landscape. Therefore, establishment of the Kottavasal corridor and the Kulathupuzha Conservation Reserve is a must to secure the future of tiger in the Agasthyamalai landscape. It is important that all endeavours now be made to enable the Anamalai and Periyar-Agasthyamalai landscapes to each sustain a minimum population of 100 adult tigers. Controlling poaching of prey species especially sambar Cervus unicolor, establishment of protected areas such as Kodaikanal, Megamalai and Kulathupuzha, acquisition of failed private estates to facilitate large mammal recolonization and restoration of native vegetation in exotic species plantations are priority tasks that need immediate attention in order to realize the huge opportunities for tiger conservation in the southern Western Ghats.
- Popular Article2009Mountain rainforests. Quest for large mammals in the southern Western GhatsSanctuary Asia 29 (April): 48-53Download
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The jeeps forming a crescent beside the forest stream switched on their headlights almost simultaneously, brightly illuminating
the drama unfolding before my eyes. Fifteen wild elephants were approaching the water from the forest beyond, unfazed by the presence of a horde of humans less than 20 m away. I was in Anakulam, a remote village in the rainforests near Eravikulam National Park in Kerala. During a field survey in the southern
Western Ghats, reports had filtered through of a fabled spot where elephants have been congregating since living memory to drink at a natural mineral spring. To ascertain the veracity of these stories, the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) team, led by Dr. A.J.T. Johnsingh, braved the rough, mountainous roads to Anakulam (meaning ‘elephant pond’) through dense Ochlandra reed brakes, arriving at dusk, only to find the locals playing cricket beside the stream!
- Popular Article2009Musician of the monsoonThe Hindu Magazine, 6 September 2009, page 5.
The Malabar Whistling Thrush is a flautist of unbridled creativity but, given the wanton destruction of its habitat, how much longer will we hear its music?
- Popular Article2009Welcome back,warblersThe Hindu Magazine, 1 November 2009, page 5.
- Dataset2009Data from: Brewing trouble: coffee invasion in relation to edges and forest structure in tropical rainforest fragments of the Western Ghats, India. Biological InvasionsDryad Digital Repository. doi: 10.5061/dryad.588k7
- Dataset2009Western Ghats Hornbill SurveyIndia Biodiversity Portal, Western Ghats bird transect layer http://indiabiodiversity.org/layer_info.php?layer_name=lyr_235_wg_birdtransects
Data from Western Ghats Hornbills and endemic bird survey contributed to India Biodiversity Portal
Available here: http://indiabiodiversity.org/layer_info.php?layer_name=lyr_235_wg_birdtransects
- Newsletter2008Sighting of a rusty-spotted cat in the Varushanad Valley, IndiaCat News 49: 26-27Download
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A solitary rusty-spotted cat Prionailurus rubiginosus was sighted in a dry deciduous habitat of the Varushanad valley (9°
40’ 3.72”N/77° 25’ 44.15”E) in Tamil Nadu, India on 6 June 2008. The Varushanad valley is located in the southern Western Ghats, an ecological subunit of the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot.
- Report2008Hornbills and endemic birds: a conservation status survey across the Western Ghats, India.NCF Technical Report No. 17, Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore.
- Report2008Tribes of the Anamalais: livelihood and resource-use patterns of communities in the rainforests of the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and Valparai plateau.NCF Technical Report No. 16, Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore.Download
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The Western Ghats hill range of India, recognised as a global biodiversity hotspot, also contains impressive cultural diversity including a number of tribal communities. This study uses past records and primary field research to describe aspects of ethnic identity, social change, demography, livelihoods, and resource use among three tribal communities in the Anamalai hills along the Western Ghats mountains of southern India. Kadar, Muthuvar, and Malai Malasar communities across 190 households in 8 settlements located adjacent to rainforests in the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary were studied to examine current modes of existence vis-à-vis their past and the use of rainforest patches they live within. (Download PDF to read more)
- Journal Article2008In search of the munzala: distribution and conservation status of the newly-discovered Arunachal macaque Macaca munzalaOryx, 42(3): 360–366Download
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The recently-described Arunachal macaque Macaca munzala is so far known only from western Arunachal Pradesh, north-east India. Here we present the first conservation status assessment for the species. Our surveys enumerated a total of 569 individuals in the Tawang and West Kameng districts of the State. The species seems to be tolerant of anthropogenic habitat change but is vulnerable to hunting. A low infant to adult female ratio suggests that not all adult females reproduce at any given time, and females do not give birth every year. The macaques are persecuted largely in response to crop damage, with the practice of keeping them as pets providing an added in- centive to hunting. The species is, however, able to attain remarkably high densities in the absence of hunting. Crop damage by the macaque is widespread; patterns of crop damage are similar across altitudinal zones and do not seem to be correlated with macaque density. The species will need to be protected in human-modified landscapes, and the issues of crop damage and retaliatory persecution need to be addressed urgently.
- Journal Article2008A Voucher Specimen for Macaca munzala: Interspecific Affinities, Evolution, and Conservation of a NewlyDiscovered PrimateInternational Journal of Primatology 29:743–756Download
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Sinha, A., Datta, A., Madhusudan, M. D., & Mishra, C. (2005. Macaca munzala: A new species from western Arunachal Pradesh, northeastern India. International Journal of Primatology, 26, 977–989) discovered Arunachal macaques (Macaca munzala), a species new to science, in the eastern Himalaya of Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India. They depicted the holotype and paratypes of the species in photographs, and a specimen of the species had been unavailable for preservation and examination. In March 2005, we obtained an entire specimen of an adult male Macaca munzala, which we propose as a voucher specimen for the species. We provide detailed morphological and anatomical measurements of the specimen and examine its affinities with other macaques. Macaca munzala appears to be unique among macaques in craniodental size and structure, baculum, and aspects of caudal structure, while exhibiting affinities with the other members of the sinica-group to which it belongs. We summarize our insights on the origins and phylogeny of Macaca munzala. Finally, we review the current conservation status of the macaques, which are threatened by extensive hunting in the only 2 districts of Arunachal Pradesh where they are documented to occur.
- Journal Article2008MigrantWatch: A citizen science programme for the study of bird migrationIndian Birds, 3(6) 202-209Download
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What are the consequences of rapid global change for the behaviour and ecology of wild species? Answering this very broad question is a challenging but important task. One relatively manageable question under this broad umbrella is how the timing of biological events (i.e., phenology) is changing as the earth’s climate
changes. In this article, we describe a new programme aimed at assessing the timing of migration of birds that winter in the Indian Subcontinent and monitoring changes in this timing over the long term. MigrantWatch is a volunteer-based programme in which participants record the arrival, presence and departure of migrant species across India. We also outline the goals, structure, and open-access philosophy of the programme, and illustrate its potential by briefly describing information collected on the arrival patterns of winter migrants in the second half of 2007.
- Popular Article2008Out of the BlueSanctuary Asia, Vol. XXVIII No.1, 40-45.
- Popular Article2008Shifting livelihood options and changing attitudes in the Garo hills, western MeghalayaCurrent Conservation
- Journal Article2008Empty forests: Large carnivore and prey abundance in Namdapha National Park, north-east IndiaBiological Conservation 141: 1429-1435.Download
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Illegal hunting poses a dual threat to large carnivores through direct removal of individuals and by prey depletion. We conducted a camera-trapping survey in the Namdapha National Park, north-east India, conducted as part of a programme to evaluate carnivore and prey species abundance. Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) was the only large carnivore detected by camera-trapping. Indirect evidences indicated the presence of the wild dog (Cuon alpinus) and leopard (Panthera pardus), however, there was no evidence of tigers (Panthera tigris), suggesting their possible extinction from the lower elevation forests. Of the major ungulate prey species, sambar (Cervus unicolor) and wild pig (Sus scrofa) were the only large prey detected, while the Indian muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak) was the only small prey species detected. Relative abundances of all species were appreciably lower than estimates from other tropical forests in south-east Asia. We suspect that illegal hunting may be the cause for the low carnivore and prey species abundance. An ongoing community-based conservation programme presents an opportunity to reduce local people’s dependence on hunting by addressing their socio-economic needs and for using their skills and knowl- edge of the landscape for wildlife conservation. However, long-term wildlife monitoring is essential to assess the efficacy of the socio-economic interventions in bringing about wild- life recovery.
- Report2008Strategies for reducing bycatch of susceptible speciesPolicy Brief. UNDP/UNTRS and NCF. Chennai